Unfortunately, babies do not come with an instruction manual. This leaves many new parents wondering just how much milk their baby will need. A newborn’s stomach is not very big, just about the size of a cherry at birth. This may seem to indicate that your baby will not need a great deal of milk. However, their stomach quickly empties and they will require frequent feedings. Furthermore, an infant’s stomach rapidly grows, and their milk intake will increase with their stomach size and activity level. On day one their stomach can only hold 0.2 ounces of milk, but this increases to 5 ounces by the end of their first month.
This can all seem a little confusing, but don’t worry we’re here to help! So how much milk will your baby need over the first year? Let’s break it down.
How Much Milk Will My Baby Need? A Guide for Year 1!
How Much Milk You Baby Needs in the Newborn Stage
At birth, your baby’s stomach is the size of a cherry and can only hold 0.1-0.2 ounces of milk. However, their stomach will process and digest the milk rather quickly and your baby will require near-constant feedings. If you are nursing you will be producing colostrum, a thick, rich version of milk that is full of nutrients. Your baby’s stomach can only accommodate a teaspoon of colostrum at a time! This means you will be nursing A LOT.
By three days, an infant’s stomach has almost quadrupled in size, approximately the size of a walnut. They can now handle 0.8 – 1.0 ounces of milk. Your baby’s pediatrician will be monitoring them closely to ensure they are properly gaining weight. To maintain adequate growth, your newborn will require around fourteen to twenty-two ounces of milk per day over the course of ten to twenty feedings.
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Things to Keep in Mind About Your Newborn
Your baby’s milk intake during this breastfeeding initiation phase (the first few days following birth) is dependent on how well your baby latches and learns to nurse. Some babies may struggle with getting the hang of nursing or have an improper latch, resulting in less milk intake.
Because of this, your baby may lose a little weight. Some weight loss is considered normal and your pediatrician will likely keep track of any losses or gains. By day three your milk should come in and replace the colostrum, combatting any weight loss.
Your baby will indicate to you when they are hungry and full. Hunger cues include crying, lip-smacking, sucking on hands, wriggling, and fussing. Alternatively, when he has had enough he will turn his head away, become disinterested, and may even push away the bottle or breast.
By the end of the first month, an infant’s stomach can accommodate two and a half to five ounces of milk. They will likely need to eat every two hours or so. By this point, your baby will probably have had a growth spurt. You can expect the number of feedings and the number of pounds gained to slow down for a bit.
Moving Up to Month Two
At two months your baby will be ingesting about three to three and a half ounces per feeding. This means they will require a total of around 26 ounces per day.
This means that you will need to feed or nurse your baby around eight times a day, or every two to three hours. You can expect to go longer in between feedings, especially at night, as your baby begins to sleep for longer periods.
How Much Milk Your Baby Will Need from Month Three to Six
Many babies will continue requiring three to four ounces at each feeding and feeding every two to three hours, gradually stretching to every three to four hours. Most babies experience growth spurts at 7-10 days, 2-3 weeks, 4-6 weeks, 3 months, 4 months, and 6 months. During these phases, your baby will probably want to nurse longer and/or more frequently.
The good news is that if you are nursing or pumping your body should adjust to meet your baby’s new demands within a couple of days. It is important during the beginning of your breastfeeding journey, and during growth spurts, to nurse on demand.
If you are formula feeding your little one may require a few more ounces at each feeding. Remember to follow their hunger cues and try to feed them on demand, especially during the stages commonly associated with a growth spurt. If you are exclusively pumping you may want to add in a few extra sessions when your baby is indicating they are hungry more often and taking larger quantities of milk.
Months Six to Eight
By six months your baby will likely be eating some solid food, as some little ones begin solids as early as four months. This will account for some of the nutrients your baby needs each day but milk or formula is still vitally important. Most babies drink between four and six ounces of milk at each feeding.
They can go for longer periods between nursing sessions and should receive about 32 to 36 ounces each day. Follow your baby’s hunger cues and stop when they indicate that they are full.
Months Eight to One Year
Even though you are incorporating more solid foods, your little one will still want around five to eight ounces at each feeding and will nurse approximately every three to five hours.
Your baby may take additional milk before bed. For many babies, this bottle is really about soothing them and it’s how they put themselves to sleep.
As your baby grows the nursing sessions will become less frequent but greater in duration. The total amount of milk per day can vary depending on your little one’s growth needs, their efficiency at nursing or taking a bottle, whether they have a cold or illness, and even their developmental stage and interest in other activities.
The amount of milk ingested by a baby each day can be anywhere from 17 ounces to 45 ounces. Because of the large discrepancy in milk intake, it is best to follow your baby’s cues and feed on demand as much as possible.
Your pediatrician will be able to assist you. They will monitor your baby’s growth and weight gain, guide you as to when to introduce solids, and help with any nursing or feeding difficulties. Before you know it, you baby will be moving on from the milk and bottle stage.
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